About Us

The New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN) is an incorporated society of members, represented by a Board of Governance.

NZDSN was formed in 2010 and is a network of not-for-profit organisations and some for-profit NGOs that provide support services to disabled people, mainly through contracts with government.

NZDSN takes a pan-disability perspective on the sector.

NZDSN is governed by a Board elected from the wider membership, and is serviced by a full-time Chief Executive and a small, mainly part-time support team.

Our Team

A portrait of Garth Bennie

Dr Garth Bennie
Chief Executive

Garth joined NZDSN in January 2015 and since then has led NZDSN into a new era of closer ties with Government and across providers. Garth has a wealth of experience in and around the disability sector with 15 years at the Ministry of Education as a District Manager for Special Education.

A portrait of Sue Eastwood

Sue Eastwood
Office Manager

Sue joined NZDSN in August 2014 to assist with the transition of the existing administration position into the current Office Manager role.

Sue provides the day to day management and coordination of the NZDSN office.

A portrait of Sara Georgeson

Sara Georgeson
Policy Analyst

Sara Georgeson works with NZDSN as a policy analyst. She has a background in social work, tertiary education and disability support services, and more recently in project management and policy roles. Her most recent roles before joining NZDSN were with the Ministry of Health’s National Health Committee secretariat as a policy analyst, and then with CCS Disability Action where she led a project to update the Mobility Parking Permit Scheme.

A portrait of Mireille Vreeburg

Mireille Vreeburg
Auckland Executive Facilitator

Mireille has a BA Degree Facility Management and 15+ years’ experience in Marketing Communications in the Education, Publishing and Childcare sectors and was also trained as an NLP trainer in The Netherlands. In 2007 she and her family, including 9-year- old triplets moved to New Zealand permanently. Trained as an accredited Life & Business Coach by the Neuroleadership Group, she started her business Coacha Ltd.

Our Board

Sean Stowers (Board Chair)

Karen Scott (Deputy Chair)

Simone Molenaar

Pip Stewart

Sharon Saxton

Laurie Hilsgen

Mike Brummitt

John Taylor

Carissa Pereira

Tania Thomas

NZDSN builds its work around six core documents:

  • The Treaty of Waitangi
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • The Enabling Good Lives Principles
  • The Disability Action Plan 2014-2016
  • New Zealand Disability Strategy
  • The ASENZ Supported Employment Principles

Our Vision

An inclusive New Zealand where all disabled people are included and valued, their human rights are promoted and protected, and they are supported and encouraged to maximise their potential.

Strategic Outcomes

Statement of Strategic Intent 2019—2021

Disability issues is a priority for Government through:

  • The Disability Action Plan
  • The Enabling Good Lives Principles
  • Employment
  • Gaining contracts with Government for advice (MSD, MoE)
  • Providing representation and undertake project work on:
  • Effectively influencing Government in relation to the Select Committee recommendations

The support service sector is well-connected and networked. NZDSN will:

  • Work in partnership with DPOs and family groups
  • Deliver events that foster connections and networking at a regional and national level
  • Function to promote mentoring and coaching opportunities within the sector
  • Network with other peak bodies

Providers have a focus on quality service delivery, current best practice, evidence and innovation. NZDSN will:

  • Ensure workshops, seminars and conferences promote quality service provision, evidence based practice and innovation, utilising national and international expertise
  • Encourage and influence robust and independent evaluation of government led initiatives eg new model, IF, EGL
  • Work with MoH and MSD to foster genuine service improvement activities, including peer review
  • Foster and share current best practice and evidence that is meaningful and useful to members
  • Lead projects related to the recommendations of the Putting People First Report

Disabled people and families value the expertise and capability of support service providers and the workforce. NZDSN will:

  • Partner with key stakeholders (Te Pou, Careerforce etc) to ensure focus on workforce issues, and provide feedback to Government

NZDSN will demonstrate leadership by modelling inclusive practice in its various activities and events. NZDSN will:

  • Work to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities and families in forums and conferences
  • Consult people with disabilities and families on key issues